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Posted: 5/20/2005 2:03:35 PM EDT

PRESIDENT YELTSIN activated his "nuclear briefcase" for a retaliatory attack against the West in 1995 when Russian early warning stations picked up what they thought was an approaching American Trident ballistic missile, according to a television documentary.

A Moscow news agency report at the time announced that Russia had shot down an incoming missile launched from northern Europe. It turned out to be a Norwegian weather research rocket.

However, in a reconstruction of the incident, including interviews with key Russian military officials, Channel 4's Equinox programme has discovered how close the world was to a ballistic missile launch by Moscow.

After the approaching missile was spotted, Moscow began a ten-minute countdown to launching a retaliatory strike in the belief that an American Trident submarine operating in the Norwegian Sea or Barents Sea, had launched a missile.

At six minutes to impact, the Russians switched on a special communications circuit which connected military headquarters with silo-based missiles, missile-carrying trains and submarines. At five minutes to impact, President Yeltsin would have had to make a decision about transmitting "unblocking codes" to make a launch possible.

Colonel Robert Bykov, a former commander of a mobile missile regiment, part of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces, says in the documentary, Russian Roulette, which will be shown tomorrow: "These first few minutes caused a lot of alarm and a lot of tension." He reveals that orders were given to Russian ballistic missile submarines to go on battle stations.

Bruce Blair, a former American nuclear forces commander and now a member of the Brookings Institute in Washington, says: "The military actually issued orders to the Strategic Rocket Forces to prepare to receive the next command which would have been the launch order."

A decision to launch Russian missiles has to be made by three men, the President, the Defence Minister and the Chief of the General Staff. The nuclear briefcases, containing communication and missile launch terminals and carried by aides for all three, were activated "for the first time ever", the programme claims.

The launch of the Norwegian Black Brent XXII rocket which took place on January 25, 1995, ended "successfully" when it crashed into the ocean near the Arctic archipelago of Spitsbergen, more than 600 miles from Russian territory. It was part of a joint Norwegian-American project investigating the Northern Lights.

The Moscow news agency was wrong when it claimed that the missile had been shot down. However, as its burners fell to Earth, the Russians thought they were warheads heading south. Moscow abandoned the countdown when it realised the missile's trajectory was not on its territory.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been forewarned by the Norwegian authorities six weeks earlier, but the information was not passed on to the appropriate military commanders.

Colonel Bykov says the incident underlined the potential dangers posed by Russian missile forces because of the poor state of the early warning systems.

Link Posted: 5/20/2005 2:05:16 PM EDT
Didn't something like this also come close to happening in 1986 or something.

A big NATO exercise that the Russians thought were a cover for an attack?
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 2:08:55 PM EDT
You would think if we were really attacking we would send more than ONE missile.
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 2:10:04 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Bama-Shooter:
You would think if we were really attacking we would send more than ONE missile.


The russians knew we had better nukes
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 2:11:57 PM EDT
Fucking Russians.
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 2:14:39 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Bama-Shooter:
You would think if we were really attacking we would send more than ONE missile.



New missile. Really really big.

Makes Tsar Bombe look like a firecracker.

Jim
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 2:15:42 PM EDT
I'd bet this has happened (on both sides) more than we want to know about.
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 2:17:06 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/20/2005 2:17:51 PM EDT by leelaw]
And again during the Cuban Missle Crisis we were nearly bombed to shit. The missles were being fueled and we were 24 hours away from sending in ground troops to destroy them before they could be armed with nuclear warheads... Unbeknownst to us, the warheads were already in place and the ground attack would have been responded to with missle launch, which would have ended in the launch of missles against Cuba and Russia (an attack by Cuba would be considered an attack from Russia). We found out the nukes were there several decades later.
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 2:20:39 PM EDT
I did not know this. Will there be an english documentary of this any time soon we could watch?
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 2:20:52 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Langadune:
I'd bet this has happened (on both sides) more than we want to know about.



I'd bet the farm on us coming pretty close more than just this once back during the Cold War.

The real bad part is...


The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been forewarned by the Norwegian authorities six weeks earlier, but the information was not passed on to the appropriate military commanders.
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 2:22:18 PM EDT
Nuclear doom has once again been averted.

"The only winning move is not to play."
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 2:28:02 PM EDT
I wonder how long it will be before someone uses a nuclear weapon and it's no longer a threat but an everyday weapon that will then be used for survivability of a country.
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 4:02:34 PM EDT

Originally Posted By olyarms:

Originally Posted By Bama-Shooter:
You would think if we were really attacking we would send more than ONE missile.


The russians knew we had better nukes



There was a scenario that one side would launch an innocuous 'scientific' rocket that would go astray but actually contained a really large H-bomb for a high burst to knock out the opponent's C&C with EMP. Then the rest of launch would get off to knock out the opposing silos. Then it would be end game, either surrender or die. Supposedly, this was the Ruskie's own preferred scenario so that was why they were so antsy about the situation.

It wasn't called MAD without a reason.

wganz

Link Posted: 5/20/2005 4:03:47 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Langadune:
I'd bet this has happened (on both sides) more than we want to know about.



The phrase 'you can't handle the truth' comes to mind......
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 4:11:29 PM EDT
send the minutemen to russia!


to arms!
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 4:15:33 PM EDT
I remember asa kid during Carter's term, Dan Rather came on his normal evening news program saying that the US was minutes away from launching a nuclear strike (a week or so prior) all because of a simple computer micro chip failing. I remember in the 80's computers were still voo- doo to most middle to low income families.

Not sure of anymore details than that, I was young and freaked out.
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 4:17:09 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/20/2005 4:22:20 PM EDT by limaxray]
Old, old news. So what? And we almost had nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis. And I almost spilled my beer last night.

Here's my point--IT DIDN'T HAPPEN! It might have, but it didn't. I'm not going to get all exercised and wring my hands about a might have been.

Besides, we would have won. (note sig line)

ETA: The reason why they didn't launch, and why all the errors we had in our systems didn't lead to war, is because of a concept called "dual phenomenology." That concept says we need to have confirmation from two separate types of sensors--land based radar and spaced-based infrared, for example--before we can declare an attack both probable and hostile. The Soviet/Russian systems are built along similar guidelines, tho theirs are falling apart. The system worked; next story.

Frankly, this is nothing more than a scare piece to convince the population we don't need new, updated nuclear weapons to match the current strategic model, rather than the 20-40 year old Cold War-era weapons we have now.
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 4:24:05 PM EDT

Originally Posted By limaxray:
(note sig line)


and the nuke avatar

anyway, there are a lot more like these during the cold war, probably some we never heard about
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 4:28:55 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/20/2005 4:29:13 PM EDT by raven]
Yeltsin. He was pickled half the time he was awake. Wonderful person to have command over nukes.
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 4:31:12 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Langadune:
I'd bet this has happened (on both sides) more than we want to know about.



dozens of times...
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 5:03:40 PM EDT


Turn your key, Sir!


I said, turn your key!



Link Posted: 5/21/2005 5:01:08 PM EDT

Originally Posted By napalm:

Turn your key, Sir!


I said, turn your key!






That movie is considered a comedy by missileers. My favorite line is when the general just shouts out, "I'd piss on a spark plug if I thought it would help!"
Link Posted: 5/21/2005 5:03:48 PM EDT

Originally Posted By leelaw:
And again during the Cuban Missle Crisis we were nearly bombed to shit. The missles were being fueled and we were 24 hours away from sending in ground troops to destroy them before they could be armed with nuclear warheads... Unbeknownst to us, the warheads were already in place and the ground attack would have been responded to with missle launch, which would have ended in the launch of missles against Cuba and Russia (an attack by Cuba would be considered an attack from Russia). We found out the nukes were there several decades later.



Yup...that was the closest we ever came to the nightmare scenario of full-scale nuclear war with the USSR...
Link Posted: 5/21/2005 5:09:33 PM EDT
I also have heard about a much closer incident in 1986.

NTM
Link Posted: 5/21/2005 5:27:46 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/21/2005 5:28:45 PM EDT by limaxray]

Originally Posted By DK-Prof:
Didn't something like this also come close to happening in 1986 or something.

A big NATO exercise that the Russians thought were a cover for an attack?




Originally Posted By Manic_Moran:
I also have heard about a much closer incident in 1986.

NTM



That one, I think, was the one where they loaded a training tape into the Cheyenne Mountain system, but forgot to tell everyone it was "training." So, when the missiles started showing up as coming over the North Pole, they raised the readiness levels higher than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis. The nuclear forces were stood down when, per procedure, the Missile Warning Center did a voice check with the missile warning sites--who weren't seeing squat.

But, once again, procedure and the system caught it before we were committed......as designed.

I guess that's why this is a yawner for me; our systems, at least, are designed to error-check the snot out of any input, and as such it catches these problems before we make cities assume three million degrees Centigrade.
Link Posted: 5/21/2005 5:31:40 PM EDT

Originally Posted By raven:
Yeltsin. He was pickled half the time he was awake. Wonderful person to have command over nukes.


Link Posted: 5/21/2005 5:38:50 PM EDT
Some stuff as best as I can recall:

In 1979 in NORAD, a training tape simuating a soviet icbm attack was mistaken for a real attack. Training facailites were moved elsewhere after that.

The documentary 'nukes in space' mentioned how Vandenburg AFB in Cali was launching / testing ICBMs during Cuban missile crisis.
Link Posted: 5/21/2005 5:55:27 PM EDT
Besides....we all really know when the end comes it will involve zombies.....LOTS AND LOTS OF ZOMBIES!!! Atleast that is the scenario I've be planning and sotkcpiling for!!!
Link Posted: 5/22/2005 3:26:11 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/22/2005 3:26:38 AM EDT by H46Driver]

Originally Posted By DK-Prof:
Didn't something like this also come close to happening in 1986 or something.

A big NATO exercise that the Russians thought were a cover for an attack?



I can't remember if it was '86 or earlier, but there was major naval feint against a Russian PACFLT base, Vladivostok IIRC. A CVN gave Ruskie surveillance the slip and maneuvered to get a couple of hundred miles from the port. She launched the airwing and they came in low under the radar. The strike package popped up to medium altitude so that all of sudden Ivan saw a pretty big strike heading right for him.

The Russians lit off every radar they had, the strike package turned away and returned to mom. Plenty of good SIGINT gathered that day I am sure. I believe that the the strike lead was CDR Prueher who went on to become Commandant of USNA, get his 4th star, and serve his final tour as PACOM CDR.
Link Posted: 5/22/2005 3:39:58 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/22/2005 3:40:29 AM EDT by Mr45auto]
Seriously though, I wonder what the failure rate would be for launch AND detonation for both US and Russian ICBMs, they're pretty damned old arent they? I would hope the subs would be a second wave and not primary, since they're relatively undetectable and could fire missiles after confirmed hits have taken place.
Link Posted: 5/22/2005 4:01:18 AM EDT
"Want to play a game?"
Link Posted: 5/22/2005 4:20:18 AM EDT

Originally Posted By H46Driver:

Originally Posted By DK-Prof:
Didn't something like this also come close to happening in 1986 or something.

A big NATO exercise that the Russians thought were a cover for an attack?



I can't remember if it was '86 or earlier, but there was major naval feint against a Russian PACFLT base, Vladivostok IIRC. A CVN gave Ruskie surveillance the slip and maneuvered to get a couple of hundred miles from the port. She launched the airwing and they came in low under the radar. The strike package popped up to medium altitude so that all of sudden Ivan saw a pretty big strike heading right for him.

The Russians lit off every radar they had, the strike package turned away and returned to mom. Plenty of good SIGINT gathered that day I am sure. I believe that the the strike lead was CDR Prueher who went on to become Commandant of USNA, get his 4th star, and serve his final tour as PACOM CDR.


My CO was on the LONG BEACH at the time. The LONG BEACH was the decoy. He said they had an entire Russian BG around them and a Ka-25 hovering over them with a sign that said "Where is the RANGER?" He said tensions were high on the ship that day.
Link Posted: 5/22/2005 4:29:07 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/22/2005 4:46:37 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/22/2005 4:46:56 AM EDT by Mr45auto]


Not to mention he ate cavier off his stump.



I dont wanna know.....
Link Posted: 5/22/2005 7:31:31 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/22/2005 7:35:57 AM EDT
tag
Link Posted: 5/22/2005 10:21:52 AM EDT

Originally Posted By NimmerMehr:
Some stuff as best as I can recall:

In 1979 in NORAD, a training tape simuating a soviet icbm attack was mistaken for a real attack. Training facailites were moved elsewhere after that.

The documentary 'nukes in space' mentioned how Vandenburg AFB in Cali was launching / testing ICBMs during Cuban missile crisis.



No, it was 1986, not 1979. As of 2003, when I left Cheyenne Mountain, training still goes on on the live systems. The only difference is there's an entire exercise shop established to track, administer and monitor training so that doesn't happen again. No training/evaluation tapes are loaded on the systems without the exercise shop's blessing. They also improved procedures so that no training phone calls could be misconstrued as real either.
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