Here's Some ICBM Porn to Scrape the Holiday Cheer From Your Soul

Watch out up there, Santa.

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Dec 19 2015, 4:30pm

Image: US Air Force

If you missed it, this week's Republican Party debate featured Donald Trump grotesquely squirming his way out of a question about what's known as the nuclear triad. This is the general structural framework employed by apocalypse-scale nuclear powers (Russia and the United States, so far) to ensure, well, the apocalypse.

Each nation has a nuclear arsenal based on three broad technologies: submarine-launched ballistic missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and good old fashioned bombs from airplanes. Donald Trump, apparently, does not understand this thing upon which global stability rests. NBD.

The point of the triad is to ensure that each triad power can theoretically launch a second strike against the other triad power, thus enhancing the grand horrific stalemate that keeps us all alive. Cold in here, eh?

Anyhow, it's a fun Wikipedia entry. It's also a good starting place for the rabbit hole full of dead rabbits that is missile porn. Let's dig in.

First, a compilation of missile tests at Vandenberg AFB that occurred between 2013 and 2015. These are Minuteman-III missiles, which entered service in 1970 and are expected to be around until at least 2030. There are 450 of these fuckers ready to go, mainly based at stations in Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota.

Here is an utterly dissonant dramatization of an ICBM launch courtesy of Lockheed-Martin:

Finally, a slight fudge. Trident missiles are part of the triad's submarine component (submarine-launched ballistic missiles, or SLBMs), but are essentially the same thing as ICBMs. An SLBM is blasted out of the water by compressed air, after which its rockets send it into space where a separate propulsion mechanism targets the warhead and brings it back to Earth. A single SLBM can be packed with several warheads, each one capable of being targeted independently.



The submarine part of the triad is easily the most creepy. Nuclear-armed submarines are virtually immune to attack and detection, relative to bombers and ICMB facilities. More than anything else, the presence of SLBMs ensures the capability of a second strike. But, what's more, they hint at the possibility of "winnable" nuclear war, e.g. launching a genuine surprise attack and decapitating your enemy before it can retaliate. This is ridiculous, of course, but that's the world we live in.

A completely fucked world, that is.