Created: 1/16/1979

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Soviet Capabilities for Strategic Nuclear Conflict Through the

n.tc4Hjr.ocf Eittautt-VolumeEstbaatc

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TW irctlof ol Cenlul Inlelligence



MEMORANDUM FOR: Recipients of. Soviet Capabilities for Strategic Nuclear Conflict through the

of Volume I, The Estiaiate

-I'-d,hercwith >'* the Executive Summary and main text of the annual National intelligence Estimate on Soviet capabilities for strateqic

tr a? aPerovcd onhe concurrence or the National Foreign Intelligence Board as indicated. ore detailed volume of supporting and additional analysis will be disseminateda.

2. Like previous estimates in this series, this NIE calls attention to the broad scope, vigor and persistence of Soviet strategic offensive and defensive programs. It summarizes and evaluates these programs within the

of our knowledge and uncertainties about them. It notes that evidence acquired during the past year Indicates that some near-term Soviet advances will be greater than previously anticipated.

The Pactions of future Soviet forces contained in the NIE are intended to illustrate trends foreseeable on the basis of evidence and analysis as Recipients are reminded that the Soviet programs are dynamic and that our projections are subject to change as additional evidence is acquired.

order to provide perspective on the implications of the foreseeable

trends in Soviet forces, certain comparisons with projected US forces are made herein These projections illustrate US programs and some US options as ofanuary cutoff date, and are also subject to change. In fact, the US weapon and force levels shown In this NIE are currently under review.

rec'P"ents of this NIE are cautioned that much of our information about Soviet strategic programs is from extremely sensitive InteUigence sources and methods which would be placed in jeopardy by unauthorized disclosure of its contents.





The following intelligence organizations participated in the preparation of

The Central Inielligence Agency. Ihe- infcEnence organization! of the Department! ol Stoic. Eneegy, ond Dcfenie. ond tho National Security Agency

Also Participating:

Tl* AliUlonI Chiel of Stoff for InteSgonca, Deporiment ai the Army

Ihe Director of Novel Intelligence. Deporiment of the Navy

The Aiiiitanl Chief ofntelligence, Deportmenl ot" lhe Air Foreo




This National Intelligence Estimate assesses present and future Soviet capabilities for strategic nuclear conflict- It estimates the numbers, types, and characteristics of Soviet offensive and defensive forces for strategic nuclear conflict over thc nextears. It examines tlic USSR's capabilities to integrate and operate ils forces in peace and war. It summarizes Soviet policies and doctrine applicable to strategic nuclear forces.

Tbe Estimate treats the following elements of Soviet military forces:

Intercontinental attack: intercontinental ballistic missilesubmarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs),bombers, and long-range cruise missiles. "

Peripheral attack: intermediate-range bombers, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs andnd certain older SLBMs

Strategic defense: ballistic missile early warning systems, antiballistic missile (ABM) and antisatellite (ASAT) systems; surface-to-air missilesighter interceptors, andsystems for defending Soviet, territory against aircraft and cruise missiles; systems with antisubmarine warfare (ASW) capabilities for use againsi nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarinesnd the Soviet civil defense program.

Operational considerations: activities, organizations, andfactors which support and integrate Soviet strategic nuclear forces. Notable among these are the Soviet command, control, and communications system; the readiness procedures und alert status of

- Research andrograms and methods of developing and procuring strategic forces.

Important aspects of Soviet policies with respect to strategic forces, as well as other military programs and capabilities, are addressed in three other Nalional Intelligence Estimates:oviel Coals and Expectations in the Global Power Arena, addresses thc broad national and foreign policy expectations of the USSR, including strategic policy and goals;, Warsaw Pact Forces Opposite NATO, addresses Soviet forces and capabilities for theater warfare; and. Soviet


Military Capabilities To Project Power and Influence tn Distant Areas, addresses Soviet opportunism in Third World areas. Inore thorough presentation of issues pertaining to peripheral attack forces is given inoviet Strategic Forces for Peripheral Attack.

To nicirt thc needsariety of consumers, the Estimate consists of two volumes. The first volume contains an executive summary and our broad estimates of: Soviet policies underlying strategic force programs; the main developments and trends in Soviet strategic offensive and defensive programs; the control and employment of Soviet strategic forces; and the implications of future Soviet strategic forces. The second volume contains more detailed supporting and additional analysis of Soviet strategic offensive and defensive forces and programs, along with relevant aspects of Soviet doctrine, policy, and operational concepts. Thc second volume also includes an annex which details our projections of future Soviet strategic offensive and defensive forceshc cutoff date for information and analysis in this Estimate

res OJgra-FO/f


Pag' '




Perspective* on lhe Strategic

Strategic Force Development and Procurement Policy

Perspectives on SALT .nd Other Ainu Control

Perceptions Aboul thc Likelihood snd Initiation of Intercontinental


tnterconlinental Ballblfe Muslle'

Submarine-Launched Ballistic Mlsstle Systems

Medium/Intcrmcdiatc-Rsnge SullLstic Mis-ile

Long Range Aviation

Future Weapon Systems (or Strategic Nuclear


Ballistic Missile Early Warning and


Strategic Air>

Defense Against Ballistic Missile Submarines


Directed Energy Weapons Technology


Authority and

Readiness of

Indications and Warning

Response Time of

Command and Baltle Management Capabilities

Degradation of US Intelligence and Warning

Wartime Operations

Limited Use of Nuclear Weapons I" Intercontinental

The Possibility of Protracted Nuclear


Factors Influencing Future Soviet Fences

Areas of Major Uncertainty

- tiof Future

Implications of Future Sonet Stralegic


Destructive Potential of Intercontinental Altack Forces

Countersilo Capability and Prepunch Vulnerabllitv of Soviet


Residual Capabilities of Intercontinental Attack

Views and Commentary on Preliminary Results of SACA Net Assessment

Relationship of Residual Capabilities lo Possible Target Sets

Sensitivity of Residual Analysis lo

PossHWo Soviet

Effects of SALT II on Soviet intercontinental Offensive

Future Soviet Strategic Forces for Peripheral Attack

Strategic Air

Defense Against Ballistic Missile



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Koy Recent Developments

recent years, estimates in this series have called attentionbroad scope, vigor, and persistence of Sovicl strategic offensiveprograms, the increased Soviet emphasis onand the continued Soviet concentration ondamage-limiting capabilities.

Last year wc forecast thai during at least lhe coming few years the general picture would be one of continued Soviet advanceroad front, while tlie US effort remained more limited. We called attention to the likelihood'that prospectivewoulderception of Soviet momentum and of trends unfavorable to the United States and its allies.

The evidence this year strengthens these judgments. It indicates that some near-lerm Soviet advances will be greater than wc had foreseen.

the year, the USSR has continued its steadyof both intercontinental and intermediate-range offensivehas made additional progress in research and developmentmore capable offensive and defensive systems. Therecent developments, and their effects on our the USSR's prospects and policies, are as follows:

Soviets are flight-testing modified ICBMs with MIRVs (multiple independently largctable reentry vehicles) that aie considerably more accurate ihan currently deployed versions. Extensive and successful testing this year Indicates that these modified systems probably will start to be deployed

We bad expected such accuracy improvements, but not until thc advent of new ICBMs several years later. Wc now estimate that the Soviet ICBM force will achieve the potential capability to destroy some four-fifths of the US Minuteman'silos, three to four years earlier than projected in last year's estimate.

their testing programs for both ICBMs and SLBMs, the Soviets have continued to stress MIRVed systems, two of wliicb carry more RVs (reentry vehicles) ihan the initially deployed versions. In deployment programs, the Soviets have evidently decided to install MIRVed missiles in virtually all of their MIRV-capablc ICBM and SLBM launchers. Thus, the number of missile RVs in the USSR's intercontinental slrikina forces will probably increase considerably more rapidly in the next few years-than we had expecied. Al lhc same time, the United States now-anticipates.some slippages in Its-own hewc now estimate thatew years in the, the USSR is likely to match or sligblly surpass the United Slates in total online intercontinental offensiveis. in online ICBM and SLBM reentry vehicles and bomber weapons combined.

In air defense research and development, the Soviets this yearow-altitude intercept capabilitiesew lookdown/shootdown fighter under test conditions. They made further progress inn an AWACS (airborne warning and control system)ew low-altitude SAM system. These developments, along with tbe great importance the Soviets assign lo the damage-limiting aspects of iheir strategiclead us to believe that inhe Soviets will place increasing emphasis on improving their defenses, especially against .bombers and cruise missiles at low altitudes.

The Soviels have now achieved initial operational deployments of MIRVed mobile IRBMs as pari of an extensive program to modernize their strategic capabilities against European NATO, China, and other areas on lhe Eurasian periphery. Soviet slrategic forces for peripheral atlack are already superior In sinking power to those of thc comparable Western and Chinese forces combined. The modernization of these Soviet forces will increase the existing disparily.

e continued Io emphasize

(lie launch of theii strategic missiles upon receipt offrom early warning radars and other detectionan enemy strike was en route. Along within warning sensors, in force reaction times,the flexibilityand survivability of forces and command

USSR can now employ its strategic forces for preemptive, retaliatory, or launch-ontaclical-warmng strikes, in addition" to the much less likely option of surprise attack While wc do not fully understand the significance for Soviet strategy^

J could reflect: concern that thc USSR might not obtain advance warningS decision to strike; recognition that any decision to preempt would riskuclear exchange by mistake; growing confidence that Soviet forces could respond in time or even suffer some losses and still be able to counterattackide range of US targets, and hope that Soviet power now deters the United Stales sufficiently to lessen the chances thai the Uniled States would escalate from theater towar.inimum, launch-on-warning capabilities and tactics increase the options available to the Soviet leadership under circumstances of crisis and conflict which could vary widely.

ther noteworthy developments of the past year show that Soviet strategic programs have neither narrowed in scope nor sluckened in pace. These programs continue to reflect the Soviet conviction that enhancement of the USSR's strategic posture requires concentration on supporting capabilities, such as command and control, as well as on forces and weapons

In strategic offensive forces, research and development activity is in progress on improved weapons in all categories. Systems under development include several new or modifiedewew large ballistic missile submarine and SLBM weapon system, what isontwangc ALCM (air-launched cruisendew intercontinental bomber or cruise missile carrier or both.

In ASW programs, there were initial sea trials this yearew class of SSNattack submarine) which can dive deeper and may be somewhat quieter than its

predecessors. There is evidence lha( Ihe Soviet SSN force will expand in the future. The Soviets have continued their efforts to develop more effective ASW sensors, though they continue to lack broad ocean detection capabilities.

In ABMn both systems and technology continues. Tlie limited ARM capabilily at Moscow remains operational without change.

In command, control, and communications, the Soviets have long stressed redundancy and extensive bunkering in an effort to ensure continuity of command and the availability of information in wartime. In addition, they arc augmenting their fixed facilities with various kinds of mobile command posts for national and military authorities. The command and control system appears capable of supporting essential decisions and transmitting initial launch instructions to Soviet strategic forces even if directly attacked. It also appears to have good capabilities for sustained battle nvanaeemcnt. but thesewould be severely degraded if key national-level command bunkers and communications centers were destroyed.


J3We estimate lhat present Soviet antisatellite systems are capable of being employed against US satellites at low and medium altitudes, although the latter capability has not yet been demonstrated. Inhe Soviets could have systems able to destroy or degrade satellites at higher attitudes, including those in geosynchronous orbits-

Implications of Trends in Soviet Intercontinental Offensive Forcos

udging by developments under way or foreseeable in the near term, theilleriod in which Soviet Intercontinental offensive capabilities are further improved relative to those of the West. Substantial increases in our estimates of Soviet counlersilo capabilities and MIRV deployments over the next few years, combined with some in US programs, lead us to believe that this period will arrive sooner and last longer than previously anticipated. Beginning around lhe, if Soviet

programs proceed in accordance with our best estimates andgo forward without further slippages, US weaponoperational are likely toew rise inoffensive power along with continuing

o assist in interpreting the implications of Sovietoffensive forces over thc neatears, we compare them in the accompanying charts with protected US forces. The primary purpose of these comparisons is to display in graphic form some of the factors which may affect: tbe viability and stability of the US deterrent; the USSR's evaluation of its comparative intercontinental offensive capabilities and vulnerabilities; and perceptions of relative power in the United States, the USSR, and elsewhere.

Thc future Soviel forces arc Intelligence projections, whereas the future US forces are based on Department/of. Defense, projections. The projections assume adherence by botho thc provisions of an agreement along the lines now being negotiated at the strategic arms limitation talkshe projections of Soviet forces represent our best estimates of Soviet deployments and technological progress under a SALT II agree men t.

The forces compared consist of ICBM launchers and their missiles. SLBM launchers and their missiles, and heavy bombers carrying bombs, SRAMs (short-range attackr ALCMs. The comparison of delivery vehicles includes all SALT-accountablc systems except for2 aircraft that arc in storage and not operational Systems off line for overhaul or conversion are included in the number of delivery vehicles but are excluded from the comparisons of numbers of weapons and equivalent megatons.

Thc comparisons alsoumber of options each side could exercise to alter tlie striking power or survivability of its intercontinental forces. Options not illustrated on the US side, for example, include thc deployment of ICBMsobile basing configuration and thc Introduction ofCBMystem with comparable capabilities'

l> llw bod> otvtrirlrrWi.ilafar* u* Mrfadcd Md thr Blirii ot

ranMiuomthese eedmEskeui*iWof edduw Bedflre sad IB III Mothmb-SaLT rwttlie. lo. ocfcwreoixsWtrchnoloeolhr rllm, eldrvfermrt*n US ICBM. trJf.maees wtX


Indexes of Soviot and US Forces for Intercontinental

Soviet Mod SAL Force: US SALT^Umlted Force

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orrvclpj* hCUM Jtuooh*'* optvadon onvCrstoA. or urxUin: SLCMi fjpcfatwnir. undtf convewon, irt frnlpyt'tf oninftiA or on *oj trials; JrvJ opvarioiursngo Ixvnbflrii Th*<Jo not mclutfo SLSM Uurtchoft.SBN*l ydrULt o* Und mob^launehoyjl not inteo oicludod IranSoviof lif/wo* i'* BtcMtf* xtrcrafl. iCBM Ittjncto'* botovod lo bo

Gdaii Submfti.not fB HM and moinbtlUdnro noi intrude! in US toul*

toronltAQ moaiuFii* *tc*tifi#o iiuf^'mr* undur construction OflaunCnw

ansj*/po"-ifj fioi fijli, oonvnrsion. or thipytrd

MiiVHttn jMytoxta CO^poacd of MRV*oi iAdOeurcltAtty ta'cMabto)counted1no RV.

turn tmwm*-

hows how Soviet and US intercontinental offensive forces compared in the pastears and are projected to compare in thc comingears, using four indexes of quantity and quality to illustrate lhc trends.

graphs show that, over the past decade, the Soviels have* movedosition of inferiority in each of these indexes to

a present position In which they lead in delivery vehicles and online equivalent megatons, but arc still inferior in total numbers of online weapons and average accuracy of MIRVed ICBMs.

With respect to the future, the upper left-hand graph shows lhat SALT II wouldeduction in Soviet delivery vehicles and bringore nearly equal situation in this index.

The lower left-hand graph shows that the substantial Soviet lead in online equivalent megatons will increase as the USSR continues lo deploy weapons with relatively large yields.

The lower right-hand graph illustrates thc effects of the anticipated Soviet deployment of MIRVed ICBMs withaccuracies. (The accuracies of individual Soviet ICBM systems arc shown inflie current US defense program does not include further accuracy for present types of ICBM*.

The upper right-band graph, comparing tolal online weapons in intercontinental forces, shows how Sovicl MIRV deployments, which began about five years later than those of the United Slates, arc substantially increasing tolal Sovicl weapons for intercontinental atlack. In ibis index, the Uniied States remains about at its current level until Trident and especially ALCM programs are under way. This Estimate is the firs! in which we have forecast even temporary Soviet equality in this index at any time during lhc ensuingearsALT II agreement.

Tlie upper right-hand graph also shows lhat. in the middle and

, both sides are likely to advance in total numbers of online weapons in Intercontinental forces In lhend aflcr, the US advance is likely lo be somuwhnl faster than thai of the USSR because of the programed large-scale US deploymenl of ALCMs.


ombines numbers of online weapons and tbe yields, accuracies, and reliabilities of weapons and their delivery vehicles into simplified measures of the total theoretical destructive potential of intercontinental striking forces. For purposes of measurement and comparison, wc assume in each case that every online weapon in the intercontinental forces of both sides is to be used for one or the other of two generic applications: lethal area potential assumes exclusive use of all weapons to destroy soft area targets; hard-target potential assumes exclusive use to destroy bard point targets.ommon base of comparison, tbc damage criterion for soft targets is setevel sufficient toeinforced concrete building, while for hard targets it is setevel sufficient toepresentative hard* missile silo.

It should be noted that the graphs inisplay rough measures of prelaunch potential against notional targets of purely nominal hardness They do not reflect real-world economic or military target sets, targeting plans, or operational attributes of weapon systems which would affect their utility in intercontinental warfare.

The left-hand graph shows that the USSR's program to deploy MIRV warheads of relatively high yield will cause its lead in lethal area potential to increase. Tbc absolute potentials of both sides are very large, however. Even .it the stringent damage criterion chosen, tbe total US lethal area potential today is

Thc right-hand graph shows that the USSR's program toICBMs with improved accuracies and relativelywarheads will cause Soviet hard-target potential toslightly surpass that of the United States beginning inAt that time each side will have the theoreticaltargets. These theoretical potentials

will more than doubleuring this period, there will be many more hardened targets in the USSR than in the United States: In the USSR,ard ICBM silos and launch control centers plus hundreds of bunkers of varying lesser hardnesses; in thc United Stales,ard silos and launch control centers bulmall number of otber hardened facilities. It shouldnoted that most of the Soviet capability is in ICBMs wiih flight times of aboutinutes,arge portion of the US capabilily is in weapons carried by bombers with flight times on thc order ofours.



Counlersilo Capabilities of Soviet

Hypothetical Attack by ICBMs ol Soviet Mod SAL Forceinuteman Sllos

Two-on-One Cross Targeting.



Surviving Silos

: i l.

A3 Midyear'

Prelaunch Vulnerability of Soviet

Hypothetical Attack by ICBMs ol US SALT-Llmlted Force Against Soviet Mod SAL Force

Two-on-One Cross Targeting




'Surviving Sllos




tn mm Suvio: silo* in lhaellecla our eiiumpCon lhal lha Sonets will Oismanllaalong with olftor rytiema. loUi SALTaggfegata timitatont


llustrates the eountcrsilo capabilities of Soviet ICBMs. which make up that portion of the Soviet force best suitedirst strike against fast-reaction opposing forces. This consideration would be of particular importance to the Soviets' assessments of thc capabilities of their intercontinental offensive forces, because their military doctrine stresses countermilitary targeting to contribute to da mage-limiting objectives. The chart also illustrates the vulnerability of Soviet ICBM silosirst strike by US ICBMs of programed types (that is,ystem with comparable hard-targethe Soviets' heavy dependence on silo-based ICBMs would make them especially mindful of the survivability of these weapons

top two graphs show the increasing vulnerability of US Minuteman silos caused by Soviet deployment of accurate MIRVed ICBMs, For these calculations, weevere damage criterion, which we assume is thc conceptual equivalent of what

rudent Soviet planner would use in evaluating hisapability.

top right-hand graph shows that if the Soviets electand can successfully execute two-on-oneto compound the probability of destroying US silos,of Minuteman silos which would be expected todamageoviet strike would benThis number would decrease to fewern

bottom two graphs, on lhc other hand, show lhat the ongoing Soviet silo-hardening program largely offsets the improvements the United Stales has made and plans to make in the hard-target potential of its current types of ICBMsoviet silos would survive attacks by currently programed types of US ICBMs during the period. The number of RVs in surviving Soviet silos, not shown on thc chart, would in fact increase as the Soviets deploy more MIRVs.

respect to the graphs on Soviet stlo survivability, it should be noted that our estimates of Soviet silo hardness are subject to considerable uncertainty. Further, we have no basis for estimating total system hardness, which is the criterion the Soviets would use. Thc continued testing of silo hardness,urrent program to modify even their newest silos and launch control centers, indicate that the Soviets are still seeking to improve their ICBM system survivability."



1 r


isplay tiends in lhe destructive poieiitialstrikiiu: lorces remaining after hypotheticalattacks by the ICDMs of one side on the other. This ismeasure of some of thc factors relevant toto perceptions about them, and to deterrence. (Forview about the utility of this type of measure, seeThe calculations assume lhat the attacking side employsand strikes only at the retaliatory forces and bases of theClearly these are arbitrary limitations which neither sidefollow in practice, although bombers and SLBMs are lessICBMs for first-strike counterforce attacks againstforces. Using these assumptions, we make subtractions offrom prelaunch potentials in order to show what we call

For lhe attacking side, residual forces arc those ICBMs not used in the hypothetical counterforce attack plus all those SLBMs and bomber weapons that could be generated. Thus, for the attacker, the residuals are those forcesavailable for other missions, cither at tbc lime of the first strike of later.

For the side attacked, residual forces arc those available foris, ICBMs calculated to survive hypothetical counlersilo strikes plus bombers on alert and SLBMs at sea. Tbe calculations assume that ICBMs.ride out the attack without being launched from undernd assume that alerted bombers and at-sea SLBMs arc not vulnerable to first strikes. '

Alternative first-strike conditions are examined: surprise attacks, in which lhc forces of the attacking side areenerated posture but those of tbe side attacked are on day-to-day alert; and preemptive attacks, in which the forces of both sides areenerated posture. Thc formerorst ease assumption for the side attacked. The latter corresponds conceptually to the conditions the Soviets believe most likely. Soviet military doctrine anticipates that intercontinental warfare would likely arise outrisis or theater conflict,,allhough it docs not rule out the possibility of surprise attacks.

4how that Sovicl residual potentials will tendthroughout the nexlears, whereas those of the Unitedremain fairly constant until about thend thenspecifics arc:

lethal area potential, shown in charthe Soviet residual would far exceed lhat of lhe United Stales throughoutf the USSB struck first. The two sides would be about equal if the US struck first with surprise until about the, after



which (he Soviet residuals would be the larger. The Soviet residual potential would exceed that of the United Slates if the United States struck first preemptively.

In hard-target potential, shown in chartairly steady increases in Soviet residuals would improve the USSR's relative position considerably in the, after which US advances would tend to parallel continued Soviet gains if thc USSR struck first and would exceed thc Soviet gains if the United States struck first. Except in the caseoviet surprise attack. US residual capabilities would be greater than those of the USSR in thc middle and.

absolute terms, however, thc residual potentials of both sides are already substantial and will remain so. In all circumstances of attack, each side would have residual capabilities sufficient to Inflict massive urban and industrial damage on the other. Even in theoviet surprise attack, though it would reduce the US potential by half, would leave the United States with residual lethal area.potential greater than the total urban, area of the USSR. Soviet residual lethal area potential would grow from more than half the total US urban area today to about

should be noted

that this analysisery stringent damagetoeinforced concrete building.

omparison of thc surprise and preemptive attack cases displayed innd 5would beboth the relative and absolute residual potentials of thc side attacked would be Improved in the preemptive cases because in these cases we assume that its forces had been alerted prior to the attack. In residual hard-target potential, thc improvement would be greater for thc United States, largelyreater proportion of its prelaunchn bombers and ALCM carriers which can achieve enhanced survivability by higher alert rales.

II.llustrates the marked and growing asymmetries in the composition of Soviet and US intercontinental offensive forces, using residual potentials after hypothetical surprise attacks as the example.

The left-hand graphs display the continuing heavy Soviet dependence on silo-based ICBMs. Soviet SI.BM RVs, while increasing in numbers, add very little to residual lethal area and hard-taiget potentials because of their relatively low yieldsoor accuracies. In this calculation, bombers make noto Soviet residual potentials because the USSR keeps no bombers onwe assume that none would survive a


US surprise allaek. Because virtually all of tlie USSR's icsidual potential would be iu ICBMi having short flight times, strikes against the United States by Soviet residual forces could arrive promptly.

right-hand graphs illustrate that tbe US force mix is more balanced at present, but lhat silo-based ICBMs would be reduced -toegligible fraction of residual potentials in lhe future. The projected increases in the US residual potentials in the middle andre caused by US deployment of Trident SSBNs and especially AI.CMs.

on aerodynamic vehicle, (bombs.

and ALCMs) is illustrated by their growth asof US residual potentials. Wiih respeel tofor example, in .the easeovietattackore than four-fifths of thepoteniial would be in aerodynamic vehiclesslow flight time's and subject to attrition by Soviet

displayed in this Estimate are not to be takenof lhe results which might occur in war. Clearly, justof allocating all residual forces against either hard orof nominal hardness before comparing themthese analyses from the world of reality- Instead, theinlcnded only to display the general characteristics and qualitiesforces in comparable terms, and to illustrate trends in the twothe period of the next decade. Specifically, the calculations seek to: '

Compare gross capabilities against bard or soft targets in comparable situations in order to display whether one force or the otber has more of an accent toward hard or soft target capability.

Compare the relative capabilities of thc two forces toirst strike, by displaying how much retaliatory potential would" survive on thc side attackedideirst strike would have to consider along with its own remaining potential).

Display the relative reliance of each weapons mix upon one type of weapon or another,

year, inissenting view was voicedto the usefulness of such theoretical analyses. Tn part as athis difference of opinion, the Studies, Analysis, and Gamingof the Joint Chiefs of Staff during this past year hasuclear exchange between US and Soviethis


simulation differs from the work in this Estimate in two cardinal respects:

It seeks to be more realistic with respect to what might happen in wartime. Thc simulation attempts to take into account many more elements, suchull range of economic and military targets on each side, thc targeting doctrine of each side, and the possible attrition of bombers and cruise missiles by air defenses

It analyzes the resultswo-sided exchange in which the opposing forces seek to achieve specified levels of damageide range of military and nonmilitary targets. Thc NIE looked only at the remaining and surviving forcesirst strike by only thc ICBMs of one side against only the strategic nuclear striking forces of the other.

different analytic approaches shed light onof the question of deterrence.

The residual calculations in the NIE focus on the question of the capabilityide after its strategic forces had been attacked first. They shed light on the question of deterrence to the extent that the criterion is whether, afterirstide would have enough destructive potential remaining to deter the other from attacking in the first place Broadly speaking, this Is the outlook of the doctrine of assured destruction as the principle of

The other form of analysis focuses on what the situation would beull-scale two-sided exchange. Broadly speaking, such analysis sheds light on ultimate war-fighting potential as the principle of deterrence.

The SAGA simulation has reached only preliminary conclusions thus far.umber of the key assumptions are still being reviewed and tested for sensitivity. Thus, it is too early to draw opinions as to the nature of the balance of strategic forces from the SAGA effort. Next year, we hope, the results of both techniques will be available for comparison.

Over and above the question of whether the NIE and SAGA lechniques lead to differing conclusions about the strategic balance, thereivergent view in thc Intelligence Community aboul the propriety of the quasi-dynamic assessments of residual potentials contained in the NIE. The holders of this view believe that: (a) the analysis of relative US and Soviet stralegic nuclear capabilities in wartime circumstances isroper function of thc US Intelligence Community, and (b) such analysis is best done within the Department of Defense, with Intelligenceull partner. The holders of this view


also believe lhal only lhe form of analysis lhal considers comprehensive Iwo-sided exchanges can convey valid and useful impressions about relative US and Soviet strategic nuclear capabilities."

Director of Central Intelligence believes that bothanalysis have their merits for the purpose of informingabout trends in thc relative capabilities of forces, ln bis

Il is highly desirable to proceed wiih lhe SAGA simulation of wartime capabilities.

Tbe Inielligence Community welcomes an opportunity to participateartner in such an endeavor.

Ultimately, what is neededet assessment effort under the direction of the National Security Council, with participation by the Department of'Defense, the Department'of Slate, the Intelligence Community, the Arms Control andhe- prospective Federal Emergency Management Agency, and .'perhaps

Implications of Trends in Soviet Air Defense and ASW Capabilities

Air Defense. In lighl of lhc trends wc anticipate in intercontinental offensive forces, the effectiveness of Soviet air defenses against aerodynamic penetrators will become even more important lo US deterrent and striking capabilities inhan it is today. At present, the massive Soviet air defense forces would have good capabilities against aircraft al medium and high altitudes. There arc, however, major technical deficiencies in ibeir ability to intercept penetrators at low altitudes, and these are compounded by lhe low level of proficiency the air defense establishment has demonstrated to dale. The Soviets are now working to develop improved systems for low-altilude defense. In the, they will probably begin to field lookdown/shootdown fighters, an improved low altitude SAM system, and an AWACS capable of detecting and tracking low-allitudeeast over water.

isplays estimated trends in the Soviet potential to perform funclions essential to low-allitude air defense over thc nextears. It illustrates ihis potential for tbe region ol thc USSR west of ihe Urals, which contains much of the nation's population and economic and military assets, and in which thc bulk of Soviet ah defense forces are concern rated.

Th* huLUn oloUwari lhe Dlietlot, Deleme iMtltletwe Agenev. and iheSenlo, MetUtence Offieen of each ol lhe miliiary lenScti. Foi on eloboeailon,ui ind rommentatv on preliminary ieialli ol ihe SAGA nudy. lit pari K..

op Seer at -

Trends in Soviet Low-Altitude Air Defense Potential In the Western USSR

Potential Low-Aliilude SAM Coverage (Perceni of Area)



Current high-Altitude Coverage otnaAMs



^Cruise Missiles Bombeii C

Potential AWACS Coverage ol Overwaler Approaches (Percent ol Frontage Continuously Covered lor up loours)

Bombers and Cruise


S3 Midyear


. One/acHHQMrdmtt fie utaayce

illustrated in lhe top leil-hand graph. beginning in lhe, lhe numbers of improved Soviel weapon systems will probably grow fairly rapidly if, as wc anticipate, thc USSH places considerable emphasis on defenses againsi aerodynamic penetrateat low altitudes.ur best estimate projects the deployment in thc western USSB ofookdown/ shootdown fighters of several different types lor area defense, andiles with low-altitudeAMs having point defense capabilities.

The top right-hand graph shows that, as Sovietfighters increase in numbers in the middle and, the improving Soviel air defense warning and conlrol systems would have the technical potential to direct them to the vicinity of low-altitude bombers in an area growing from aboutercent to aboulercent of thc western USSH. In lhc middle and, thc potential Io vector fighters against ciuise missiles al very low altitudes would exist in aboulercent of this area. Much of thc potential coverage is concentrated in thc northwestern and Baltic approaches to Moscow and other major centers, and we expect this concentration to continue.

Thc bottom left-hand graph shows thc potential area in which improved SAM systems will have the technical potential to direct their missiles against low-altitude targets. The graph shows lhat lhe area of lhe western USSR afforded SAM coverage against low-altitude bombers is projected to grow from very little at present lo aboutercentnd against cruise missiles at very low altitudes from none at present to roughlyercent. Those areas arc much smaller than the roughlyercent of the western USSR now afforded coverage against high-altitude aircraft by point-defensendAMs, but couldumber of high-value economic and military assets. It should be noted that the total area of future SAM coverage could be less than shown here, depending on the degree to which the Soviets deploy SAMs with overlapping coverage

The bottom right-hand graph illustrates our estimate of the offshore defense capabilities the Soviets would acquire by deploying an AWACS lo cover overwater approaches in order to deteel US bombers and ALCM carriers and direct interceptors to their vicinity. By lhc, the Soviets will probably have the potential to maintain continuous forward defense coverageilometers from Soviet borders along all overwater approach routes to the western USSR, for periods of up to aboul three daysrisis or following

. 21

Soviet counterforce attacks against the United States. There would, however, be gaps in the potential coverage againsi cruise missiles once they were launched.

hese graphs do not measure the probability that Soviet weapons would destroy penelrators, nor do they measure the overall effectiveness of the air defense system under operational conditions. We are unable to quantify the attrition which Soviet air defenses would be able to inflict on US low-altilude aircraft and cruise missiles, in large part because of uncertainties about key technical characteristics of future systems. Further, the actual attrition achieved would be influenced by other factors not measured or shown on the graphs, such as the manner and depth of defense deployments and the number of strategically important installations included in defended areas. Nor have we been able to quantify important operational factors and interactions^

^Accordingly, thereivergent view in the Intelligence Community which-holds that graphs showing the gross area of theoretical coverage of air defense systems, particularly when standing alone, can be misleading as indicators of trends in Soviet air defense potential. Because such graphs cannot incorporate the more important deployment and operational considerations noted above, this view concludes that thc graphs are not useful.4

he estimates that follow represent our best judgments about tbe nominal capabilities of Soviet air defenses against the several elements of the programed US aerodynamic force, without taking operational factors into account.

In general, we estimate that at least through thc, improved Soviet air defense systems will not be available in numbers large enough to markedly improve defense against bombers and cruise missiles at low altitudes.

In tbe middle and. Soviet air defenses will probably have reduced the USSR's vulnerability lo US defense avoidance tactics. Undegraded. the defenses would have the nominal potential to inflict considerably higher attrition against an altack by US bombers of current types. We believe that these defenses, however, will probably have little or no effective capability against SRAMs carried by bombers.

is especially difficult to estimate the likely capabil ilies of Soviet air defenses against cruise missiles in the middle and lale

Os* We bc,icvc ,haf ir> thehe USSR could have a

TUhuih, Soto, htaUfme.f eoA cf ike miUu; mvlau.


gradually increasing nominal capability to defend some key areas against currently programed US cruise missiles.throughout the nextcausc of technical and numerical deficiencies, the USSR's nominal capability to defend

arge force of US cruise missiles will probably remain


While we cannot quantify the effects of Q

is likely that these factors would weigh heavily against thc overall effectiveness of Soviet air defenses. Thus we believe that the actual performance of thc defenses against combined attacks involving large numbers of US bombers, SRAMs, and cruise missiles will remain low during the period of this Estimate.

ntisubmarine Warfare. Soviet forces with ASW capabilities are noi now an effective counter lo US SSBNs. The USSR is attempting, however, to overcome its deficiencies inrograms include the development of improved sensors, for submanne detection. The number of nuclear-powered atiack submarines having ASW capabilities which are relatively good by Soviet standards will probably increase from aboutt present tor more in the, or as manyumberlass SSBNs are converted to SSNs. There is tentative evidencerend toward quieter SSNs. New types of surface ships and long-range patrol aircraft with somewhat improved capabilities for ASW arc likely. The critical problems confronting the USSR in ASW. however, are limitations in sensors and dala processing.

Foreseeable Improvements will likely give the USSR better technical capabilities lo detect, track, and attack SSBNs that are operating near the USSR, arc in confined waters, or are transiting choke points such as straits.

lodging by what we know ofrograms and our understanding of ASW research in thc Uniled States, we believe the Soviets have tittle prospect over the nextears of developing systems capable of detecting and covertly tracking US submarines in broad ocean areas.

larger numbers of ASW-capable forces and improved ASW sensors, thc Soviets would have somewhat better capabilities for overt tracking of US submarines as they leave port or transit through choke points. Considering lhc likely limitations in Soviet forces, the countermeasurrs available to US forces, and the general complexity of lhe problem, we do not believe thai, during the nextears, the Soviets will be able to conduct sustained overt tracking of US SSBNs on patrol.



In, moreover, longer range SLBMs will triple the

ocean area within which US SSBNs will be able to operate and remain within missile range of targets in the USSR.

therefore believe that, throughout the period of this Estimate, virtually all US SSBNs on patrol would be able to launch their missiles.

Major Factors Influencing Future Soviet Policy

As tbe Soviets now view iheir strategic position, they probably consider their strategic capabilities to be the equal of those of the United States and superior to those of their other adversaries. They almosi certainly have increased confidence that these forces effectively buttress the USSR's superpower position, and that they contribute to lhe Soviet aim of shifting lhe tola! world correlation of forces in the USSR's favor. The Soviet leaders do not wani nuclearbelieve itisaster. In our judgrnenl, however, their ideology and their political and military objectives combine to motivate them lo compete with tbe United'Stalcs in lhc global arena and to try to isolate it from ils allies. From their perspective, powerful strategic capabilities offer foreign policy advanlages. and superior capabilities to fieht anduclear.war conslilute lhe best deterrent as well as the best preparation for the contingency, of nuclear war should it occur.

The Soviets are approaching the^endof an 1CBM/SLBM deployment cycle and the beginningew FivcrYcar Plan. In the' relatively near lerm, ihey face mounting economic problems and leadership transition. Tliey are aware that the United States and NATO are considering several important military program options which arc as yet undecided. The Soviets want toALT II agreement limiting some aspects of the arms competition, for reasons which we believe include increasing their prestigeuperpower equal to the-United States and reducing lhe prospccls of increased US defense efforts,

Thus the Soviels could beajor decision point, at which they might contemplate reductions in lhe growth of resources committed to strategic programs as part of an effort to reduce the defense burden they carry. Total military expenditures, which absorb an estimatedoercent of thc Soviet gross national product, will come under close scrutiny because thc USSR's economic growth rate is expected to decline inecause of manpower, energy, and productivityrocurement and operation of strategic forces account for roughly one-fifth of total defense spending. Strategic

NFAC IntcfiEcncc Aucumcntitimaied SovirI Otftnie SpciufMf Trend, and PmwU.


programs alsoarge bui unknown portion of the additional one-fourth of total defense spending which is allocated.

As the Soviets evaluate possible ways of reducing the burden of -defense programs, they would seelc alternatives which offered significant returns to thc economy without jeopardizing theirosture. Prospective SALT II limitations on strategic offensive forces would noi by themselves significantly affect defense spending. The resources devoted to development, production, and deployment of these forces, moreover, tend lo be highly specialized and not readily transferable to such critical civilian programs as energy. Reduction in strategic force manpower would be of marginal value because these forces' are less manpower intensive than other elements of the armed forces. In addition, thc Soviets already have committed large capital resources for strategic programs which will exlend into. The Sovieis probably view some of these commitments as consolidating and reinforcing recenl strategic gains, and some as offering the prospect of overcoming current deficiencies. In sum, we believe that even if overall miliiary spending were to be curbed, strategic programs would suffer least.

A number of countervailing factors lead us to conclude that, despite economic difficulties, the Soviets will continue their long-term stralegic force improvement programs. Chief among them are the

In the Soviet view, even better strategic capabilities would enhance deterrence still further and foster strategic stability through Soviet advantage. The Sovicls almost certainly make generous assumplions about potential US and NATOand arc also concerned about China and its prospective modernization. They can anticipate that in thend after, US programs now in the planning stages could erode the USSR's earlier gains.

The Soviets almost certainly do not have full confidence in the couittersilo capabililics they will possess in thc, in part because success would depend on execution of complex and inherently uncertain targeting tactics. We believe they will seek lo develop and deploy new or modified ICBMs wild accuracies sufficient to permit them lo employ simplified targeting tactics to attack US ICBM silos, thereby increasing Soviel confidence in tbe probability of successful atiack Wc also believe they will concentrate heavily on attempts lo overcome the USSR's

innlfv. ASW capabililics

against SSBNs. and willn improved ABM


ts imparled lo Sovicl strategic programs by the USSR's large, permanentstablishments, thc military services, and the military industries.specially, the Soviets will strive to match or surpass the United States In selected advanced technologies having strategic application, andinimum to avoid falling behind technologically.'

possibility, however remote, that intercontinental nuclear war might actually occur will continue to support Soviet efforts to improve tbc USSR's strategic poslure. The Soviets still express concerns about the US capability tourprise intercontinental attack, even though they believe the likelihood of such an attack is low for the foreseeable future. They are evidently also doubtful about whether escalation towarfare can be avoided once the nuclear threshold has been crossed in theater warfare..In evaluating their chances pfuclear war, the Soviets are likely lo remain uncertain about.the degree to which their active and passive measures would protect their economy and pdpulatioh. and about their ability to conduct sustained military operations.

general, in their planning for the future, thc Soviels are likely to be seeking ways to increase the options available to the leadership in crisis or conflict, to control nuclear escalation in the eventATO-Warsaw Pact theater conflict, and to improve the endurahec of the nation' and its forces so that in the unlikely event of intercontinental war lhe USSR could emerge In a. better position than that of its adversaries.

Other Considerations

ffects of SALT II Limitations. We have examined the effectsrospective SALT II agreemenl on Soviet intercontinental offensive forces. As the preceding analysis shows, we expect Soviet strategic capabilities to improve steadily under SALT II limitations.

be forces we have projected under SALT II. Soviet delivery vehicles of types limited by'the agreement are someoercent fewer ihan we would expect in tlic middle andn the absence of such limitations. Tolal online weapons projected for Soviet intercontinental forces are several thousand fewer, but SALT limitations would noi prevent the USSR from matching or surpassing the United Stales in this index, al leaslew years in the.

SALT II limitations would not reduce the threat lo US ICBM silos and other intercontinental forces and bases. However, both prelaunch and residual Soviet lethal area and lurd-larget


potcntiah are somewhat less in our SALT II projection than we believe they would be if Soviel programs were unconstrained.

SALT II limitations would not prevent the development and deploymentroad speclrum of improved weapons, but it would foreclose some Sovietas deploying follow-on systems as add-ons rather than replacements, building more than one wholly new ICBM, and laking full advantage of the USSR's large ICBM throw weight by pressing fractionation still further.

One effect of SALT II would be to reduce some US uncertainties aboul the future size and composition of those Soviet forces which were limited, though many critical uncertainties arc independent of SALT,

ikely Soviet Hedges, Some Soviet developmental activities probably represent hedges against possible future US threats, deterrents lo US withdrawal from arms conlrol agreements, and efforts to give the Soviet leadersoptions to break out of arms .control agreementscould be exercised if they came lo judge that the situation warranted il. These include:

HAD program in antiballistic missiles could give thc Soviets the option to deploy widespread ABM defenses, but probably not before thcr later. The ABM system now under development could probably be deployed at somerban target areas some five yearsecision to begin such deployment, or in as littleear if the Soviets stockpiled components and trained troops covertly for several years before ha nd.t_

I We have no

reason to believe, however, that the USSR would abrogate the ABM Treaty in circumstances approximating those of the present US-Soviet political and strategic relationship.

A mobile ICBM program could give the Soviets the option to deploy ICBMs with better survivability should their fixed silos beobile ICBM system has* been developed. Its production and deployment are evidently now in abeyance,odified or follow-on missile continues.

A long-range air-launched cruise missile program may represent another hedge against potential vulnerability of Soviet ICBM silos or an attempt to demonstrate the USSR's capability lo compete with the United States in systems of this type. We assume that the Soviets will deploy at least some such missiles under SALT II. on existing aircraft beginning in ther on an aircraft specifically designed to carry them somewhat


mall cruise missile similar in size and capability lo the US Tomahawk could probably be ready for flight-testing in Ihe.

oviel Civil Defense Program. We have acquired no new evidence during the past year that alters any of our principal conclusions about the scope, objectives, pace, and effectiveness of thc Soviet civil defense program. Soviet civil defenses remain capable of protecting mostrisis work force, and some of lhe urban population in blast-resistant shelters. Tbe critical decision for protecting most urban dwellers, however, is and will remain whether to order evacuationrisis. With no evacuation, prompt casualties could be on the orderillion, whereas witheek for urban evacuation and other preparations, prompt casualties could probably be reduced to the low tens of millions. The civil defense program is not capable of preventing the destruction of much of .the USSR's industrial capacity and its most valued material accomplish menu, and It is not proceedingay which seems likely toignificant reduction in iho vulnerability of the Soviet economy.

Tbc Soviet leadeis view their civil defense program as integral to the USSR's military strategy and strategic posture. They almost certainly believe their present civil defenses would improve their ability to conduct miliiary operations and would enhance the USSR's chances ofuclear war. Given the many uncertainties attendantuclear exchange, however, they cannot have confidence ip the degree of protection that would actually oe afforded We do not believe that their present civil defenses would embolden Soviet leaders deliberately to expose the USSRigher risk of nuclear war. We have no firm basis for judging the degree to which civil defense preparations will affect Soviet perceptions of the fuiure strategic balance.

Thereivergent view in the Inielligence Community which holds lhat the USSR's civil defenses, in conjunction wllh its olher strategic capabilities, provide the Soviet leadershipignificant advantage fn the eventuclear war. In this view, thc Soviet civil defenseils polcnlial for influencing polilical pcrceplions. providing leverage for coercionrisis, affecting nuclear exchange outcomes, and contributing to poslwnrimpacts on the reality of lhc strategic balance and on perceptions of the balance in thc USSR and elsewhere.9

foregoing evaluations

assume SALT II conditions and adherence to fhe ABM Treaty. They reflect our best estimates of likely Soviet programs. The results however, are sens.liveumber of unceriainties about the size


structure, and capabilities of Soviet forces and their supporting elements. In

Soviet concealment programs are becoming more sophisticated, centrally directed, and better enforced.^"


In the area of Soviet weapon characteristics. Soviet security measures in many cases prevent us from learning enough about the prospective capabilities of systemso determine the threat until after the systems have reached the flight-test stage or its equivalent. Uncertainty sometimes persists evenystem is deployed.f"

factors, along with the breadth of Soviet militaryto the danger of delay in determining the performance of improved Soviet strategic systems and imprecise or belated identification of advanced or novel systems. With respect to ASW

believe we can learn enough about Soviet progress to identify major new developments before they reach operational deployment.

The military capabilities of US and Soviet strategic forces are highly dependent on their prospective performance under actual operational conditions. US intelligence, however, confronts serious gaps in information and analysis about Soviet force performance, and cannoi by itself judge the net effects of interaction between the forces of the United States and the USSR in the event of crisis or conflict.


Original document.

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